P3 initiative helps to align early elementary with Pathways principles

When it was announced that the One91 Pathways program would expand into the middle and elementary school levels, Cindy Check, Early Childhood Programs Coordinator, was already working with a team to help make the plans a reality. That’s because in 2019, District One91 was awarded a short-term grant to implement P3 programming. While P3 stands for Prenatal through third grade, the district approach is a preschool through grade 3 endeavor.

According to the national P3 Center in Denver, the goal of the initiative is to support districts in becoming, “Rooted in better understanding and actively addressing the disconnects between organizations and systems that contribute to opportunity gaps.”

Check explained it this way.

“Part of the big thinking around P3 work is that you move away from looking at individualized learning targets and saying, ‘kids need to be able to do these five things,’” Check said. “Instead they want to look at progressions of learning.”

While Check mentioned that assessments would still happen, she said they would be rolled out in a more strategic manner. Further, student learning would be mapped to a continuum where teachers can help chart a course for future success.

“It doesn’t matter so much where kids are at a given moment; what matters is that the teacher can identify that child’s next step in learning during this critical phase of development,” she said. 

From Play to Pathways

As Check and other education staff think about how to usher in a new era where Pathways is prominent, they feel confident that their past work will set them up for success.

“Pathways is a far more hands-on approach to learning,” Check said. “Things like ‘Maker Spaces’ are actually play-based concepts that we’re seeing integrated into our middle schools.”

Check contrasted the idea of play-based learning versus other education models.

“In preschool, kids learn math concepts by playing with blocks — the teacher has an objective and designs learning opportunities for the student to explore,” she said. “Other methods require learners to be attentive and sit at a desk for extended periods of time while receiving teacher-directed learning; it’s just not as developmentally appropriate.”

When she considers Pathways and P3, Check sees the future clearly. It’s all about personalized education experiences that consider the whole child. 

“Pathways, to me, is an effort to align the science of childhood development and create an experience that works better for kids instead of it being mostly adult-directed,” Check said.

"Part of the big thinking around P3 work is that you move away from looking at individualized learning targets and saying, ‘kids need to be able to do these five things.' Instead they want to look at progressions of learning.”

- Cindy Check, Early Childhood Programs Coordinator